omnignorance, the future of the web

The dream of the web seems a form of omniscience, unlmited and universal knowledge available at the vlick ofof a button or least at the click of a Google ‘Seach’ button. However, last night I was on a site that empitomised the problems of the web.

I was pointed to a blog entry about a presentation that the blog said was “Simply the best presentation I’VE EVER SEEN!“. I was intrigued and and followed this to the Identity2.0 site and in particular a page about a keynote at OSCON 2005.

The entry about the talk mentioned ‘Identity2.0’ and ‘digital identity’ so guessed this was something to do with single logins (like MS passport) or open authentication, which has long been an open issue (with many ‘solutions’ but so far little success). However, was this person and this site talking about one of these such as plain open authentication, or something deeper.

Well it is fine for the page about the talk not to say clearly, it is written within the context of the Indetity2.0 site, so I looked for an ‘about’ link or something like that … nothing I stripped the url back to plain and of course simply got to a stabdard blog front page (I guess rather like this one), with the latest news, but nothing to gove over context or background.

In fact by chasing yet more links to other sites, by half guessing from various abstracts, blog entries, etc. I managed to pick out half a story about what this was about … but why so hard?

This reminds me of the problem I recorded a month or so back when trying to find last week’s (as opposed to yesterday’s) news. Really easy to find the latest item or even the hotest item, but really bad at getting to the background that gives context and turns buzz words into meaning.

At the risk of sounding like a codger at a cafe table, the same is true of much software documentation. If you have seen the software grow and develop over the years it makes sense, but to students trying to make sense of Java packages, AJAX, Mac/Windows APIs, it is like fumbling in the dark. Good signpoosting at every street corner, but no roadmaps.

In all these cases there are real questions we want to ask, this is not like meandering around Flickr or YouTube, travelling just for the journey. However definitive statements (I’ll not say answers) give way to half-overheard conversations in a coffee shop.

It is often said that experts know more and more about less and less untul eventually they know everything about nothing. It seems we are turning into a generation who know less and less about more and more until we know nothing about everthing – omingnorance rules.